Skip to main content

ASU College of Liberal Arts and Sciences recognizes fall 2017 Dean’s Medalists

December 06, 2017

On Tuesday, Dec.12, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Arizona State University will recognize its highest achieving students from the social sciences, natural sciences and humanities at the 2017 convocation ceremony.

Each department and school within the college has selected a phenomenal student who has demonstrated a steadfast commitment to academic excellence during their time at ASU. These students will be awarded a prestigious Dean’s Medal to be worn with their graduation regalia as they lead their fellow graduates during the processional in honor of their scholastic achievements.

The Dean’s Medalists have stood out in their fields through a number of practices, from advanced coursework and honors theses to innovative research and consistently high grades. Each of these students have earned their medal and will make incredible contributions to society and the world after graduation.

Meet this year’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Dean’s Medalists:

Rosalyn Bacal

Dean’s Medal: Hugh Downs School of Human Communication

Major: Communication

Minor: Special Event Management

Accomplishments: Bacal is a driven student who has made her education a main priority. While at ASU, she has been on the Dean’s List and is a member of the National Society of Leadership and Success, the National Society of College Scholars and is a Presidential Scholarship Recipient. She is also the event committee vice chair of the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority.

“Rosalyn has demonstrated a keen sense of understanding complex concepts and the ability to articulate her thoughts in cogent ways. She is a student who puts her community first, ensuring the health and welfare of her classmates,” said Olga Davis, professor in the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication.

Rocco Belsito

Dean’s Medal: T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics

Major: Sociology

Minor: Philosophy

Accomplishments: Belsito is a non-traditional student who came to ASU to complete his degree. Since arriving, he’s been on the Dean’s List each semester and has received the John W. Hudson Scholarship. He was able to complete his degree while working full-time.

Future Plans: Belsito plans to continue his education into graduate school and desires to pursue a PhD in sociology with a research focus on media consumption.

“Rocco is an excellent representative of the diverse population of students we have in our school and of the value of persistence when facing challenges, making him a stellar nominee for our outstanding graduate,” said Stacie Foster, undergraduate director of programs in the T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics.

Peter Burgoyne

Dean’s Medal: Department of Physics

Major: Biophysics

Certificate: Energy and Sustainability

Accomplishments: Burgoyne is an admirable academic. He has been on the Dean’s List each semester and was a leadership council member for the Latter-Day Saint Student Association. In addition, he is fully committed to community engagement. While living in Minnesota, he reached out to the local Hmong community and learned their language. 

Future Plans: Burgoyne is a current applicant for a Fulbright Scholarship to further his interest in renewable energy and sustainability at the Arava Institute in southern Israel.

“Peter is an excellent student. He has a good physics background, which I believe is an essential prerequisite for understanding energy flows in society at large, and is very committed to mastering the material. He not only excels in the classroom, he applies what he has learned to his work in the community,” said Peter Rez, professor in the Department of Physics.

Jonathan Dolinschi

Dean’s Medal: School of Earth and Space Exploration

Major: Geology

Accomplishments: Dolinschi has been a remarkable student and researcher. Besides maintaining high grades, he has been an ASU/NASA Space Grant Fellow and a research aide in the School of Earth and Space Exploration. He has also worked as a teaching assistant for mineralogy and has been a judge at the Arizona Science and Engineering Fair.

Future Plans: Dolinschi has been admitted as a graduate student in the School of Earth and Space Exploration and will begin his master’s degree in mineral physics in the spring of 2018.

“Jonathan has always been a top student. I have worked with seven undergraduate students when I was a faculty member at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. I can rank him better than most of them and perhaps one of the top two undergraduate students I ever have worked with,” said Sang-Heon Shim, associate professor in the School of Earth and Space Exploration.

Hamza El Anfassi

Dean’s Medal: School of Politics and Global Studies

Major: Political Science 

Certificate: Arabic Studies

Accomplishments: El Anfassi has been a notable student who has passion for his studies. He is an advocate for social and human rights. He has been a committee member for the Global Change Maker and is the community colleges director for the Arizona Students Association and the United States Students Association.

Volunteer Work: El Anfassi has volunteered at the Center for Advocacy Against Abused Woman, the British council and the citizenship forum in Casablanca, Morocco.

Future Plans: El Anfassi will be working in Washington D.C. as a production coordinator for Alhurra, a 24/7 Arabic-language television network that is part of the broadcasting apparatus of the U.S. government. He is also thinking about furthering his studies either in Middle Eastern studies or political science.

“Hamza is one of those students our faculty will never forget. He embodies many of the best characteristics we hope for in our students: a lively intellect, hard work, enthusiasm and concern for the political struggles of our day,” said Richard Herrera, associate director of the School of Politics and Global Studies.

Antonette Gallo

Dean’s Medal: Department of English 

Major: English (Linguistics)

Minor: German

Certificate: Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages

Accomplishments: Gallo has tackled many research areas during her time at ASU, including language contact, second language acquisition theories, teaching ESL to students with disabilities and interdisciplinary approaches to higher education. She has been an apprentice teacher in Phoenix, a teaching assistant in the writing program and a writing tutor at ASU.

Thesis: “Disaster Linguistics: An Exploration of the Potency of Cataclysmic Events on Languages”

Future Plans: Gallo is interested in living and teaching abroad while using her skills in language, teaching and learning to advance social justice issues locally, nationally and internationally.

Robert Hadsell III

Dean’s Medal: School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning

Major: Geography 

Certificate: Geographic Information Science

Accomplishments: Hadsell has been a determined student who seeks out challenging course work. He has concentrated on geographic information science in his upper-division coursework and has conducted a site-suitability analysis for a solar farm placement.

Future Plans: Hadsell will work as a geographic information science analyst with the Arizona Department of Water Resources where he has an opportunity to make a great impact in protecting Arizona’s water supplies for the next century. 

“Faculty in our school speak highly of Robert’s passion for geography in general. Like many of our students, Robert has a great love of the outdoors. This drove him to take classes in physical geography and to develop his love of water and water quality research,” said Trisalyn Nelson, director and foundation professor in the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning.

Brett Hansen

Dean’s Medals: Department of Economics, School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences

Majors: Economics, Mathematics, Computer Science

Accomplishments: Hansen has been selected as a Dean’s Medalist for two units in the college. He was awarded a President’s Scholarship to attend Barrett, the Honors College and has been a research assistant for Ross Maciejewski’s VADER Lab and co-authored two papers. He was also a research assistant for Fernando Leiva-Bertran in economics, aiding research into patent networks.

Thesis: “The Demographics of Polling Places”

Future Plans: Hansen has accepted a position as a software engineer with Amazon in Seattle.

“His outstanding performance is all the more noteworthy since he has not shied away from taking some of the university’s most challenging courses,” said Jose Mendez, professor in the Department of Economics. 

“Brett took more of the most challenging senior level ‘depth courses’ than are required for the BS in mathematics and excelled in all. Faculty unanimously commented on Brett’s academic work in the most positive terms,” said Matthias Kawski, president’s professor in the School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences.

Daniel Mangu

Dean’s Medal: School of International Letters and Cultures

Majors: Russian, Mechanical Engineering

Accomplishments: Mangu was admitted to ASU with a four-year Arizona Board of Regents Scholarship, and has since been working hard on his studies. During his college career, he had to deal with two major medical setbacks. These hurdles didn’t stop him as he has completed both of his degrees and has published an essay in Frontiers in Education.

Future Plans: Mangu will pursue a master’s degree in mechanical engineering at ASU and is expected to receive that degree in December 2018.

“Daniel is a renaissance man in the making, showing a desire for breadth of learning that is not typical for college students. This combination of knowledge of both the liberal arts and the hard sciences is precisely what we hope to see among our future leaders. Without a doubt, he is one of the strongest and most influential Russian students in the program,” said Donald Livingston, senior lecturer in the School of International Letters and Cultures.

Ariana Ruof 

Dean’s Medal: Department of Psychology

Majors: Psychology, Family and Human Development

Accomplishments: Ruof has earned many awards, including the New American University President’s Scholarship and the Zita M. Johnson Child Study Scholarship. She also helped create the Psychology Engagement Team and Mental Health Awareness Week at ASU, an activity for which she received a Cooley Leadership and Service grant. 

Thesis: “Predictors of Effortful Control in Early Adolescence”

Future Plans: Ruof plans to pursue doctoral studies at ASU's School of Social and Family Dynamics.  

“Ariana demonstrates natural leadership skills and a sense of service. She can organize a small army of people to mobilize toward a common goal in a short period of time. Ariana Ruof is truly an exemplary student overall and truly worthy of the Dean's Medal,” said the nomination committee from the Department of Psychology.

Tiffany Spicer

Dean’s Medal: School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies

Major: Religious Studies

Minor: U.S. History

Accomplishments: Spicer is a high-achieving student who has completed her degree from across the country. She has performed with excellence in all of her studies, and has given immense energy to considering the connection between cultures and religion throughout history.

Volunteer Work: Spicer volunteers at the Animal Advocates of South Central Pennsylvania, a non-profit organization promoting a compassionate and conscious lifestyle, giving a voice to the billions of animals who have been silenced.

Future Plans: Spicer plans on staying at her job in a bank while completing a two-year program studying Shamanism.

“Tiffany has an overwhelmingly positive record. Her consistently high grades are supported by instructors’ comments noting that she was always exceedingly well prepared, able to capture analytical, comparative and applied perspectives, and ready to articulate her knowledge in clear writing and expression,” said Alexander Henn, professor and director of undergraduate studies in the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies.

Collin Teague

Dean's Medal: School of Life Sciences

Majors: Biological Sciences, Biochemistry

Accomplishments: Teague has been a highly active student. He has maintained high grades while working as a researcher in various research studies and laboratories. In addition, he was named one of the 2017 College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Student Leaders. Teague coauthored a paper published in Global Change Biology and has two more publications in review.

Future Plans: Teague currently works in Dr. Sirianni’s Laboratory for Nanomedicine at the Barrow Neurological Institute and plans to study neurobiology in graduate school.

“As one of the School of Life Sciences’ most successful undergraduate researchers, Collin became a role model for younger undergraduates. His exceptional accomplishments inside and outside of the classroom are a pleasure to honor,” said the nomination committee from the School of Life Sciences.

Jonathan Vie

Dean’s Medal: School of Molecular Sciences

Major: Biochemistry

Certificate: Secondary Teaching in Biology, Chemistry, Physics, General Science

Accomplishments: Vie is a transfer student who has excelled in his studies at ASU. He joined the Marine Corps to help pay for college and has since discovered his passion for teaching. He has been a tutor for high school students while pursuing his degree and is dedicated to helping young students grow in the STEM fields within the Phoenix area.   

Future Plans: He has completed his student teaching in the Phoenix Unified High School District and plans to continue teaching there after graduation.

“Recognizing the shortage of enthusiastic, qualified teachers in STEM fields in Arizona and role models for young Latino men in the Phoenix area, the School of Molecular Sciences is particularly proud to be able to train Mr. Vie to take on these roles and responsibilities. We have no doubt he will continue to serve the Valley community well,” said the nomination committee from the School of Molecular Sciences.

Andrea Williams

Dean’s Medal: School of Human Evolution and Social Change

Major: Anthropology

Minor: Biology

Accomplishments: Williams is a non-traditional student who has completed many impressive opportunities. Williams has made the Dean’s List every semester and is a member of the Phi Beta Kappa national honor society. She participated in many anthropology-related experiences, including working in the ASU archaeology chemistry lab and Arizona SciTech.

Volunteer Work: Williams has been a volunteer at the Arizona Museum of Natural History as well as the Western Archeological and Conservation Center, a preservation and study of museum collections within the Intermountain Region of the National Park Service.

“Andrea Williams has been an exemplary student in both anthropology and biology. Her undergraduate achievements illustrate her scholarship, dedication and drive to excellence. Her studies, interests and activities are transdisciplinary and integrate several fields of inquiry,” said Arleyn Simon, associate research professor in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change.

Tyler Woods

Dean’s Medal: School of Social Transformation

Majors: Justice Studies, Philosophy

Accomplishments: Woods has been a passionate and incredibly involved student at ASU. He has been on the Dean’s List every semester and was one of the CLAS Student Leaders. He has worked as a tutor and legal assistant and is on the Standards Board of the Phi Kappa Phi fraternity.

Thesis: “A Virtue Ethics Account for Maximizing Enjoyment in Life”

Volunteer Work: Woods has volunteered at East Valley Hospice of Arizona and Best Buddies in Tempe.  He also served as a volunteer coordinator for Devils in Disguise.

Future Plans: Woods scored well on his LSAT and is hoping to attend the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law to continue to pursue his goal of becoming an attorney.

“Tyler has been very passionate about his educational and future goals since he started at ASU back in the fall of 2014 as a Barrett Honors student,” said the nomination committee from the School of Social Transformation. 

More Science and technology


Three stone tools against a black background

ASU study points to origin of cumulative culture in human evolution

Each of us individually is the accumulated product of thousands of generations that have come before us in an unbroken line. Our…

June 17, 2024
Silhouettes of six people wearing military fatigues while holding up their arms and making the ASU pitchfork symbol with their hands.

No one left behind: AI-enabled support for aging vets

Loneliness has been called the silent killer. The U.S. surgeon general has described the negative health effects of social…

June 14, 2024
Large exoplanet orbiting a star.

ASU researchers contribute to groundbreaking discovery on exoplanet formation

A team of astronomers have discovered the small exoplanet GJ 3470 b shrouded in a surprising yellow haze of sulfur dioxide,…

June 13, 2024